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2021 NFL Draft

Pro Day: Steelers Among Teams Interested in Fast-Rising Purdue LB Derrick Barnes



Purdue linebacker Derrick Barnes is a player eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft that’s seen has stock rise since the end of his senior season.

According to the mock draft tracking site NFL Mock Draft Database, Barnes’ average mock draft position was as low as No. 379. There are only scheduled to be 259 selections made.

But a strong performance at the Senior Bowl drove Barnes’ stock way up, and in a week, he was up to No. 225. By the beginning of this month, Barnes has consistently been looked at as a fifth-round selection, and after a strong pro day at Purdue this week, that could be on the rise once again.

“It’s a blessing to be able to go to the Senior Bowl,” Barnes said. “I think that helps a lot of players, getting in front of scouts and in front of teams and just the atmosphere itself. The combine being canceled, it kind of was a help for most of us that were invited, because you had that extra time to prepare for pro day. I think paid off with that extra time.”

Barnes certainly made good use of that time. He measured in at 6-foot-0 3/8, 238 pounds and ran a 4.57-second 40-yard dash and had a 37-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-11-inch broad jump while putting up 29 reps on the bench press, according to ESPN’s Jim Nagy, who called him the “best least talked about linebacker in the 2021 draft.”

“I was excited about (my numbers),” Barnes said. “There’s always room to improve, but I think I did what I need to.”

Steelers inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky was in attendance to put Barnes through the paces in West Lafayette, Indiana on Wednesday (good catch by Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot), so the Steelers are clearly among the teams that are paying attention to Barnes’ rise up the draft boards.

They also very clearly have a need at inside linebacker, where recently re-signed Robert Spillane seems set to inherit a starting role alongside Devin Bush from released veteran Vince Williams and converted safety Marcus Allen and oft-injured third-year pro Ulysees Gilbert III appear set to provide the only depth at the position.